Premier League talking points: a torrid time for goalkeepers
London — Some fans will be loving the avalanche of goals over the past few weeks, but it has been a hectic time for defenders and goalkeepers.
The top blooper of the weekend was the mix-up between Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Alisson that led to Arsenal’s second goal in their game at the Emirates.
These and other talking points from this weekend’s Premier League matches.
Woeful weekend for defenders: Virgil van Dijk and Alisson’s comedy mix-up that helped Arsenal to a 3-1 victory over Liverpool on Sunday summed up a lamentable weekend for Premier League defenders.
The result at the Emirates Stadium meant that 41 goals hit the net in nine games across Saturday and Sunday and with Manchester City facing Brentford on Monday the record for a 10-game programme looks in danger.
It continues an upward trend in goals per game in the Premier League this season with 3.20 so far compared to last season’s average of 2.85. The most goals scored in a full round of Premier League fixtures is 44 in September 2020.
Spurs’ goalkeeper struggles: Everton admitted it was their aim to target Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario at set pieces and apply pressure on him through physicality and whatever legal way they could to put him off his game.
It worked, their first goal in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Goodison Park coming from a corner that left Vicario flailing under pressure. Scorer of the Everton equaliser, Jarrad Branthwaite, admitted they had targeted the keeper.
Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou felt referee Michael Oliver’s failure to protect his goalkeeper made for a free-for-all, but in truth Vicario looked tentative.
Chelsea project stuck in first gear: Chelsea fans booed their team off the pitch after a second Premier League game in a week where they shipped four goals. Pressure is mounting on coach Mauricio Pochettino.
Chelsea lost to Liverpool 4-1 in midweek and on Sunday went down 4-2 at home to Wolves with some fans even chanting the name of former coach Jose Mourinho.
“The perception is Chelsea should be in a different position but for different circumstances, we are not. One is maybe because we’re not good enough.” Pochettino said.
It is regularly stated that Pochettino is building a new project at Stamford Bridge but with such a huge outlay in transfer fees — £1bn since American Todd Boehly took charge — that argument is wearing thin.
With an FA Cup fourth-round replay at Aston Villa on Wednesday followed by Premier League games at Crystal Palace and Manchester City and a League Cup final against Liverpool looming, February may decide Pochettino’s fate.
Man United’s revolving door of injuries: After being plagued by injuries this season, Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag had his squad back at close to full health in Sunday’s 3-0 victory over West Ham — for most of the game.
In only his fourth game back after undergoing foot surgery, defender Lisandro Martinez left the pitch with an apparent knee injury in the second half and while Ten Hag did not give details about the injury, it sounded serious.
“It doesn’t look good,” Ten Hag told reporters. “He is very sad, very disappointed. We all feel really with him. First of all, it’s a personal disaster when it’s really bad. But for the team, also it is really bad because he brings us a lot.”
Martinez, Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire all recently returned from lengthy injury layoffs.
Villa back in emphatic fashion: Aston Villa served notice they are not to be left out of the title race conversation with a 5-0 thrashing of Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday.
Villa, who went winless in the league in January, became the first away team to score four goals in the opening 30 minutes of a top-flight match in over 12 years.
The 4-0 halftime score had pundits wondering if the Premier League record for lopsided scores — 9-0 jointly held by Manchester United, Liverpool and Leicester City — might fall before the final whistle.
Bottom side Sheffield United are careening towards relegation and manager Chris Wilder apologised for his team's performance.
“We’ve been well and truly pumped,” he said. “We’ve been outclassed and outfought in every department. In this league they put you to bed and take you to the cleaners.”
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